2.02.2006

Career Nitwit

I queried one agent with letter and sample pages. He wrote that the writing was very strong but didn't like some aspects of the project as he interpreted them from the query. It was a rejection. I wrote back and said he might get a different idea of the book if he looked at the complete proposal.He agreed to look at the proposal. It wound up being a no in the end, but this incident shows that you can create a dialog with an agent and attain another look.

You're joking right? You think he read it and said no? uh huh.


My momma also told me never to burn bridges. But I couldn't resist a couple of snarky responses to agents who responded with a no months after I had representation. I responded with some of the same boiler plate rejection language I had had so much of: "This is a subjective business. I'm sure you're a worthy agent and I wish you every success in finding someone to represent."I know Miss Snark says no neener, neener, but sometimes you just can't resist.I'm going to have a hard time not sending out press releases to agents who rejected me about my nice book deal--if and when I get one.



You really want to make sure people don't forget you don't you?

So...your nice book deal comes around, and you send out books for blurbs. You think agents don't field those requests? You think agents are always agents and don't move around to other jobs or more likely..the people in their offices, NYU interns and assistants, don't move around to other jobs?

Quit acting like this is some sort of personal sandbox war in the first grade and that bad girl pulled your bobby sox down and called you a poopie head. Suck it up. Act with some degree of graciousness or you'll soon discover why "what goes around, comes around" is a horrible cliche.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Actually, "what goes around comes around" is pretty accurate. If you treat an agent (or editor) like shit, don't think you'll never be in a position someday where they won't have the power to say no to your next novel. Agents move around: so do authors. Do you really want to be dropped by/part with your future agent, only to realize you've pissed off everyone else you might have wanted to represent you? For fucks sake, be an adult and be gracious about rejection, or get the hell out of the way of those who are serious about the business. We don't appreciate you hogging the industry's time with your bullshit temper tantrums.

LSL

Anonymous said...

Ditto to what Anonymous #1 said. I used to be one of those assistants. And I remember the jerks -- I was the one who was assigned to deal with them.

Wylie said...

Miss Snark, I'm wondering, if you read the new CrapOMeter (which I just discovered! There are one or two really, really brilliant submissions - or at least I think so, with my untrained eye) - and do you comment there?
It actually got me thinking about sites like RoseDog and Authorlink... do you ever, ever read those sites? Ever?

Anonymous said...

Agents and editors are rejecting your work, not YOU.

Anonymous said...

When that "if and when" book deal comes through, my guess is that it's got to be a smash hit to make those unfortunate agents regret their callousness in rejecting your ms. And if it does become a bestseller, why would you want to make yourself look foolishly defensive in the meantime? Your work is your own reward in that respect, not the high regard you hold for it.

Anonymous said...
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Bernita said...

Dear me, is this Hyde Park?

Anonymous said...
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Miss Snark said...

Contribute ideas or insights.
Im tired of personal rant crap.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I know a woman in my writing group who burned bridges she shouldn't have. It got to the point her agent couldn't sell any of her books because no one would buy from her. In order to publish again, she finally had to change her pen name.

Not a good thing. Not a good thing at all.

Beth said...

Anonymous #-whatever said: Agents and editors are rejecting your work, not YOU.

I've heard this over and over. I'm tired of hearing it. It's not true.

All my thoughts, dreams, experiences, fantasies, ideas--all that I know, all that I hate, fear, and love--get poured into the crucible of my writing. My work could not be more me, if in refracted form.

So, yes, rejection of my creation feels very personal. But publishing is a business and it behooves a writer to act like a professional, be gracious, and move on.

Eileen said...

Just two weeks ago I heard my agent sold my novel. Instead of saying neener, neener, neerer- I would like to say thanks to those who rejected me along the way. Thanks for treating me like a professional- even though my early efforts were pitful rookie attempts. Thanks for helping me build a thicker skin and learn rejection is a part of this business. Thanks for making me go back after your rejection and look how to make my work better. Rejection made me a better writer, helped me learn about this industry, and brought me one step closer to publication. If I saw them I would buy them a drink and toast their patience.

If those who rejected are ever in a discussion about the "one who got away" and my name comes up. I hope they are sad not because my book is selling buckets- but becaues they've heard I'm a great professional to work with who meets my deadlines and handles the business with grace. I do, however, hope to sell buckets.

Mark said...

I don't find that cliche true at all. There is no evidence that I've see to support it. It implies some sort of kharmic justice, but in a small world, which publishing and films really are the finite numbers of gatekeepers involved up the anti on this particular numbers game. That's all it is.

Anonymous said...

I am, according to some posters here, the career criminal who won the Snark "Career Nitwit" award. Is that akin to a lifetime achievement award at the Oscars?

First, let me mention that the agent who agreed to take a look at my proposal after rejecting my query/sample pages did really seem to read my proposal, or at least enough of it to comment in detail about it when he rejected it again. He had some very positive things to say about my writing, which is why I had the temerity to ask him to look at the proposal. When agreeing to take another look, he told me up front it was a long shot. So my eyes were open all the way.

As for my two--count them--two snarky rejoinders to agents who rejected me, I knew it was childish when I did it. I even said alluded to it being childish in the responses I sent. The first was to a rejection I received just after I received my offer of representation. It was sent in the heat of my happy dance. The second was several months after I had an agent. I was probably in a bad mood that day.

These two should be seen in the context of several score rejections I received, many of which prompted obsequious thank yous from me.

That said, it is hard to resist saying something, sometimes. After all, it's not me who sees her mision as one "In which Miss Snark vents her wrath on the hapless world of writers and crushes them to sand beneath her T.Rexual heels of stiletto snark." This said in snarky jest, but some of those rejections sounded sincerly crushing.

And that said, it is a point well taken that you never know who you might need to get you a blurb. I didn't quite think of it that way, which is why you're Miss Snark, and I'm yet just a wannabee. (It was only two agents to whom I replied not in rage, but in good, if inappropriate humor.) Promise never to do that again. Momma was right, as ever, about not burning bridges.

Anonymous said...

Wylie, keep reading Miss Snark's archives. She dances the stiletto stomp on RoseDog. I used her link and had a good laugh. Hmmm. Is that where she got KY's pink tam?

Emelle

December Quinn said...

Just two weeks ago I heard my agent sold my novel. Instead of saying neener, neener, neerer- I would like to say thanks to those who rejected me along the way. Thanks for treating me like a professional- even though my early efforts were pitful rookie attempts. Thanks for helping me build a thicker skin and learn rejection is a part of this business. Thanks for making me go back after your rejection and look how to make my work better. Rejection made me a better writer, helped me learn about this industry, and brought me one step closer to publication. If I saw them I would buy them a drink and toast their patience.


Exactly right, Eileen. Funny that PA was mentioned above. One of the worst things about PA is it makes beginning writers think they're already good enough. Some of them have talent. Some of them could really go far with a little more work. But they're not doing that work, because they were "published" right off the bat.

Rejection teaches us things. Even a form rejection teaches us to go back and do it again. Until it's better. Until it's right.

An agent who took the time to respond-even with a form letter-doesn't deserve to be snarked in reply. They deserve a thanks, because they've taught you something about your work-it's not good enough yet (or it could just be not right for one individual, but if you're getting frustrated enough to start sending nasty responses you're probably getting more than one or two form rejections.)

So say thanks for the feedback and move on.

They deserve your thanks. They're helping you grow.

Laraqua said...

I gotta say, the second neener neener tale was kinda amusing. I wonder how long, if ever, an agent can see the funny side of that? It probably wears off pretty quickly but still, at least it was a better neener neener (written in Agent language) then just swear words.

But then, I am over-tired and am finding everything hill-air-rious.

Hey, anyone know what all them deleted posts are about? I'm seeing them more and more frequently. I wonder what those personal rants were about...

Ken Boy said...

I queried three agents in August--all rejected, though one asked for a full MS first.

The little emotional shock of rejection (my first ever, certainly not my last) got me to take another look at my MS. It needed alot of work, which it has since received.

Time will tell if it is yet any good, but the rejections helped me look at it more objectively. They were a good thing.

The goal is to do good writing, it's not a pissing contest.

E is for Editrix said...

There's that Ray Bradbury quote given as advice to writers that I love: "You have to know how to accept rejection, and reject acceptance."

I'm always really grateful when people, especially authors, are gracious. Sometimes I'd much rather hire pleasant and agreeable writers than unpleasant, stubborn but very talented ones.

That being said, doesn't "neener neener neener" look really funny when written out?

Anonymous said...

"An agent who took the time to respond-even with a form letter-doesn't deserve to be snarked in reply. They deserve a thanks"

I agree, december quinn. I was warned when I started sending e-queries that if an agent was not interested I'd get no response. I was therefore taken aback to find that more than half of them responded, although only 5 were positives and 17 or so were rejections. Only 11 never responded in any way, and I was touched and grateful to those who rejected the query but took the time to say so nicely, even to the extent of addressing me by name and writing encouraging blurbs. Okay, maybe some might have been form letters, but many weren't. I'm grateful for their graciousness and their time. They didn't have to do it.

Of the 11 agents I snail-queried, some who rejected actually took the time to write me a proper letter, on their stationery, with my full contact info etc. Considering that I know what a cold world it is out there, I was truly appreciative. I hope some of those agents read this blog. They know themselves.

If an agent is honest enough to say that she does not think she can represent my work adequately, I'm grateful, people. It narrows my search to the ones who can.
C.

Anonymous said...

"Hey, anyone know what all them deleted posts are about?"

Oi, laraqua, I've been wondering about those too. What's a blog administrator (that would be Ms Snark, I guess?) And why the deletes? Maybe some people attack commenters on a personal level, or the post is terribly distateful? I'm curious.

Anonymous said...

"distasteful"... that's what I meant...

harridan said...

I sometimes wonder how writers would react if the shoe were on the other foot.

Say if an agent or editor decided on a whim to keep a list of every work they'd rejected. Then a year later, after selling and publishing many other novels, he/she gets a wild hair up the butt and does a google search of the writers and rejected tomes.

Email to all authors still unpublished goes as follows:

Agent/Ed: Hi there, just wanted to keep you updated. In this past year I have made deals for/published the following titles: (Then a list ensues.)

As your title has still not sold/published, I find myself justified in the decision that your work lacked that certain something necessary to be published. Call it your lack of talent or whatever, but I know you can understand my joy at not taking that dud on.

All the best to you,
Avenged Agent/Editor

Anonymous said...

If you can't be professional, then get the hell out.

Professionalism at all times. That's my motto.

Anonymous said...

"If you can't be professional, then get the hell out.

"Professionalism at all times. That's my motto."

I'd rather be an unprofessional, infantile, annoying published author than a professional failure anyday. But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

I saw the three deleted posts before they were deleted. The first was from an anonymous poster identifying himself as RRB, who condescendingly accused Miss Snark of being condescending, and did so at length and with many snide remarks about both her and her blog readers. The next two posts were from Snarklings who very calmly disagreed with him (rather than enthusiastically nominating him for The People's Choice Nitwit of the Day award, as I was inclined to do).

I'd rather be an unprofessional, infantile, annoying published author than a professional failure anyday. But that's just me.

Um...but if you've got the talent to get published, then it will happen anyway, and will likely happen faster if you don't give yourself a reputation for being difficult to work with. You are only shooting yourself in the foot by being unprofessional, infantile and annoying - and for what? For the sake of your poor precious ego.

I'd rather be published than coddle my bloated ego. But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac, Tennesse Williams, Hunter Thompson--the list goes on of writers who were unprofessional, infantile and annoying (at least in some point in their careers) and did not remain unpublished.

Anonymous said...

When I had landed a publisher and a contract for my novel, I looked around for agents, not realizing that since I hadn't been offered an advance (small press), they wouldn't be interested in representing me.

One agent, who'd written a wonderfully funny non-fiction book (not about writing), called me and basically hung up on me after hearing there was no advance. Really - two seconds later.

Another agent, a junior at a well-respected NYC agency, spoke with me for 10 minutes, was incredibly kind and said he'd be interested in seeing my next ms.

If and when I get successful to the point that Agent A calls me up to represent me? I will remind him of his hangup call. Otherwise, I'm just keeping that nugget to myself - and not buying any more of his books.

Thanks, though, to that junior agent who was able to share in my excitement at being published and encourage me to go further, even though he was getting nothing about of it at the moment.

lady t said...

I think a good way to handle this whole thing is to compare the process to American Idol-Simon Cowell has one of the harshest tongues around but the man does appreciate real talent and gives good advice when he's not having minifeuds with Paula and Randy:)

Compare any rejection letter you've recieved to one of Cowell's put-downs and you'll feel alot better . Don't be one of those delusional people who throw tantrums during the auditions-remember Willian Hung,who couldn't sing a lick,got a record deal? The fact that he acted like a nice guy about being turned down was a strong factor on the plus side,in my opinion. Strive to be a Bo Bice even if you have Fantasia dreams(even she got a book deal and she can't read!). Lady T Out:D

Anonymous said...

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac, Tennesse Williams, Hunter Thompson--the list goes on of writers who were unprofessional, infantile and annoying (at least in some point in their careers) and did not remain unpublished.

Yes, but these people didn't get published because they were unprofessional, infantile and annoying. They got published because they were damned good writers.

I still maintain that if a person is a damned good writer, then they're going to get published anyway, but it will happen faster if they are professional, mature and keep their ego on a leash of appropriate length.

I don't see why some of my fellow Anonymice are equating being unpleasant with being published. The sentiment seems to be that you have the right to be a jerk if you're also talented. The fact is that you can get away with being a jerk if you are sufficiently talented.

However, this is a subjective business. What if the person you're ticking off happens to think your talent level is borderline? You might get somewhere with them if you're pleasant and professional, but you won't if they think you're a jerk.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the point is that if you are talented, you have some sort of right to be unprofessional. I do think some here are close to saying that it's ok to be unpublished as long as you are professional about it.